All it takes is time.
A number of Yakima-area nonprofits are in need of volunteer help, from Meals on Wheels to the Yakima Humane Society, and a few hours a week can make a difference, officials said.
Many organizations offer training and can accommodate a variety of schedules.
Not only does volunteering help others in the community, but it also helps the volunteer. In a study done by the United Health Group, 76 percent of adults who regularly volunteered reported feeling healthier and 94 percent said volunteering improved their mood. The same study also found people reported having lower stress levels.
For those not sure where to start, here are five places that need help:
Yakima Casa Program
Yakima’s CASA Program advocates for children in the foster care system. A CASA, or Court Appointed Special Advocate, is someone appointed by the court to work with children in the foster care system to make sure that their needs are being met. The goal is to have that person be with the child the entire time they are in the temporary housing system, said Keith Gilbertson, program manager of the local CASA Program.
“We don’t have enough volunteers right now. Because of this, 30 children are currently on the wait list. That means no one is monitoring paperwork that is coming through,” Gilbertson said.
Gilbertson said each of his staff members is managing close to 80 children. He said the goal is to have one volunteer for each child.
No previous legal experience is required, and CASAs receive training to make a difference in the life of a child.
To help, download an application at (https://bit.ly/2A6gQIK) or call Gilbertson at 509-574-2071 for more information. Applicants must pass a background check and complete 40 hours of training. The next training session is Aug. 8 with applications due Aug. 1.
Rod’s House is a resource center that supports homeless and housing-instable youths aged 13-24. Since 2009, the program has helped thousands of young people. Volunteers can assist by sorting donations, housekeeping, preparing meals and working with youths.
“We couldn’t do all this without our volunteers,” said Frank Navarro, Rod’s House operations manager.
People who are interested can apply online. Volunteers must be older than 23 and pass a background check. Call 509-895-2665 for more information.
Northwest Harvest has been fighting hunger in Central Washington since 1967 by collecting food and distributing it to needy families. The organization packages food and sends it to food banks across Central Washington from its Yakima warehouse. Last year volunteers packaged more than 6.5 million pounds of food. In the Yakima area alone, Northwest Harvest volunteers distributed food to more than 20 food banks.
“Volunteers are literally our staff and workforce. ... Without them we would have to charge food banks for the food we give them,” said Sheri Bissell, Yakima Northwest Harvest community engagement manager.
Yakima Humane Society
The Yakima Humane Society has been helping animals in the Yakima Valley for more than 100 years. The group provides pet adoption, spay and neutering and care services for animals in the Yakima Valley. The organization serves more than 5,000 animals per year and needs volunteers in all aspects of its operation, said Ashley Plaisance, communication and development director for the Yakima Humane Society. Kennel staff assistants and volunteers help clean the kennels and socialize with dogs and cats, are the biggest need, she said.
Other possible volunteer opportunities include grooming, pet photography, animal socialization and more.
“Volunteering has a positive impact on our animals. You can help them learn to interact with humans and behave properly before being adopted,” Plaisance said.
To volunteer, fill out an online application on the Yakima Humane Society’s website. Volunteers must complete a two-hour orientation, be over 16 and able to commit to more than eight hours of service per month for at least four months. Call the Humane Society’s volunteer and foster coordinator at 509-457-6854 ext. 106 or firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
Meals On Wheels
For many seniors in the Yakima Valley, getting consistent access to nutritious food can be hard. Yakima’s Meals on Wheels helps address the problem by providing food to seniors over 60. With six dining halls and vans operating daily across the Valley, the organization serves an average of 350 people per day.
Volunteers are always needed. Lorena Fernandez, program manager for Meals on Wheels, said the biggest need is delivery drivers who can take food to seniors.
“Our volunteers keep our cost down so we can service more seniors,” Fernandez said.
Volunteers usually work from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Volunteers can work daily, once a week, or somewhere in between.
To help, apply online at or call Darryl Webster at 509-426-2603. Delivery drivers must have a current driver’s license, food handlers card, and must be able to pass a background check and drug test.